Marcus, J. (2009) Overcrowded and underfunded National Crosstalk, December.

If you want to know why I think public higher education is broken, read this article. For instance:

What’s happening in public higher education in New York, whose dual public university systems are the nation’s second and third largest (after the California State University system), is an extreme example of what’s happening to public higher education all over America. Public universities are among the first to be cut when government revenues get tight, making state allocations and tuition unpredictable and inconsistent, and shutting out poor and, increasingly, middle-class students ….Campuses are so overloaded that there aren’t enough seats in required courses, meaning getting a degree takes longer—costing students, and the state, still more…..Only 30 percent of CUNY community college students earn a degree or transfer within three years, although that is better than the dismal national average of 25.7 percent…. Per-student funding has declined for four straight years….And while the cost of attending CUNY and SUNY might be higher, what students get for their money are courses that are harder to get into, cuts in programs, and services that have vanished or are thinly stretched under the weight of surging enrollment. CUNY has half as many faculty as it did in the 1970s, the last time enrollment was this high. SUNY has cut staff, imposed hiring freezes, and increased its reliance on adjuncts.

OK, so it’s ‘only’ New York State, but especially in the USA next year, budget cuts for university funding will be severe, classes will be more crowded, and tuition fees will go up. In other words, for the students, there will be even higher costs and worse service. This will of course result in more demand for online courses, but will the resources be there to ensure good quality programs?


  1. “will the resources be there to ensure good quality programs?”
    Absolutely not, good quality distance education programs take time, money and qualified people to develop them. As you have so eloquently stated several times, faculty, for the most part cannot teach. They have no formal training in adult learning theories, or instructional design concepts. They are the “sage on the sage.”

    In the online/distance education environment the person facilitating the course must be the “guide on the side.” Usually a team develops the well written unambiguous content.

    I am a mature learner, completing my third online program on adult learning/distance education. I do not have time to waste trying to determine what is expected but have no problem confronting a professor who makes my job as a student difficult. So here is my example:
    For an Online undergrad Business Ethics course, the “sage on the sage” provided the following information:
    “The term paper must be at least 2000 words and should not exceed 3000 words in length and incorporate no less than 12 sources from academic journals and/or texts. Websites do not count. Word count required. Follow APA format.”

    After I sent three emails over several days asking for clarification, I wrote this paragraph detailing what he actually wanted:
    For the term paper you may select a topic of your choice, as it relates to the course material (e.g. whistleblowing or harassment). Please ensure your paper demonstrates that you are able to effectively apply the two moral theories: (i) utilitarianism (Mill) and (ii) the deontological theory of Kant, to an analysis and discussion of your selected ethical issue in business. The paper should not exceed 3000 words in length, use APA format and contain a minimum of 12 sources from academic journals and/or texts (access via online library). “


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